Thursday, April 14, 2016

Wisconsin Cow Soap

Hello my fellow Soapers!  For this month's soap challenge Amy Warden of Great Cake Soapworks and the Soap Challenge Club tasked with creating a location themed soap that features something unique about where we come from.  I created this cute farm soap.

Wisconsin Cow Soap
I am from Wisconsin and we are known for cows, cheese, beer, and snow.  I decided to create a soap that was a landscape of a farm with a cute little cow in the forefront of the soap.  Cows are SO cute!!  Here is the sketch that my husband and I worked up (he’s an engineer and likes to measure everything).  In the forefront there is a cute little cow roaming the field.  In the background there is a barn and a silo with a wheat field and a partly cloudy sky.  There are a ton of farms in Wisconsin and dairy farming is a huge part of our livelihood.  I decided to use Fresh Cut Grass fragrance from Wholesale Supplies Plus for that fresh field smell.  The soap stayed fluid for a long time and the scent stuck really well.  

Once the sketch was made we had a plan!  This soap took several days to make because of the embeds and layers.  My husband, Mark made the molds for the barn and silo out of foam board (he is awesome).  I dusted a small amount of black mica on the top of the barn for a small roof accent. 

The same day I also made the cute cow soap slab.  I wanted there to be variability in the spots on the cows so I used squirt bottles to create the spots.  I colored my soap batter 50/50 white/black and started squirting away.  At first I was creating larger blobs of black and white but halfway through I switched to making small dots on the top of the soap for a more spotted look.  You can see the difference between the top and bottom of the soap below.

Top of soap slab for cows
Bottom of soap slab for cows

24 hours later I cut the cute cows out of the slab.  I used a small cow cookie cutter that I purchased from Amazon.  It worked out really well.  Here is a little photo shoot that I had with the cows J

On the catwalk!
Once all of the cows were cut out I “glued” them together by putting a little water between 2 cows and rubbing them together.  I used a clamp to hold the cows in place overnight so they would stick together better.
Cows all clamped up
I decided to pour the landscape portion of the soap in 2 parts.  The bottom half I poured upside down for 3 reasons.  1. I did not want any air bubbles to get trapped under the belly of the cow.  2. I knew the embeds were going to sink because I was going to pour the grass at a thin trace and the embeds were heavy.  3. I wanted to create a gradient of darkening green for the grass. I also put a tiny bit of yellow on the bottom of the soap for a dandelion.  Those things are everywhere.  

Bottom half freshly poured
After this set up I removed the soap, planed the bottom and flipped it around.  The top of the soap was divided into several portions: green for a thin layer between the bottom layer to the barn and silo, yellow and gold for the wheat, blue for the sky, and white for the clouds. 

For the wheat I put the yellow and gold in piping bags and drizzled lines of soap the length of the mold. 

Barn, silo placed and wheat field poured
Next I worked on the sky.  I wanted this to have a little gradient going from a lighter blue to a darker blue with clouds mixed throughout.  I used a piping bag to make lines of clouds throughout. 

Top of the soap
After the soap was cut I beveled the edges and made a little gold square stamp using gold mica to represent a hay loft and used a little bit of black mica to create the barn door.  This soap was a lot of fun to make and I am happy that I was able to create a soap to represent where I come from.  Cows are so awesome!  Thank you so much Amy for a fun challenge!  

Single Soap

Gathering of the cows

Front and back

Farm soaps!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Japanese Cherry Blossom Rimmed Soap

Japanese Cherry Blossom Rimmed Soap

Here is my entry: Japanese Cherry Blossom

It's Soap Challenge Time!!  YAY!!  March's soap challenge is creating rimmed soaps.  Amy Warden hosts the Soap Challenge every month and you can find more information here.  This month Tatsiana Serko was kind enough to share her method of creating rimmed soaps.  You can find Tatsiana's blog here.  She does AMAZING work!  I love how vibrant her colors are, and how clean her lines are, and how . . . okay, I think we get the picture.  Her soaps are amazing!!

Okay, let's get down to the nitty gritty of it all . . . there are 2 different methods of creating the rim that were presented to us in da club.  Amy showed us how to create a single layer rim and Tatsiana showed us how to create a slab of soap and how to slice off the necessary portions for the rim.  I chose to create my soap using Tatsiana's method.

Tatsiana's method utilized a slab mold and gelling your soap.  I used my custom mold that my husband made for me (such a great guy) that allows me to create, pretty much, whatever sized slab I want up to 12 inches square.  
My beautiful mold!!
The idea here is to create a slab of soap and then raise the soap up so a little (4 mm) is sticking above the boarder of the mold and use a soap cutter to slice off a thin sheet of soap.  The key here was to make sure your soap gelled so the thin sheets of soap did not crack and break when rolling into a cylindrical shape.  

Here is the recipe that I used:

25% Palm Oil
15% Palm Kernel Oil
15% Coconut Oil
35% Avocado Oil
10% Castor Oil

8% Superfat with the water amounting to 30% the weight of the oils
***Make sure to run your recipe through a lye calculator.***

This is pretty much the same recipe that Tatsiana provided, but, I did not have enough sweet almond oil so I subbed in avocado oil.  I LOVE me some avocado oil :) :)  

So, I blended up my soap batter around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and had plenty of time to mix in my colorants and slap this into the mold with my batter staying very fluid.  The rimmed portion of the soap does not contain any fragrances and contained no other additives.  I wanted plenty of time to play with my soap batter.  When I was finished playing with my design I popped this bad girl (yep, this mold has to be a she) into the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours (this sucker juuuuussssst fit in my oven).  When the 2 hours were up I turned the oven off and left the mold in the oven for another 4 hours with the light off.  When I removed the soap from the oven to unmold it was still warm, but, firm.  I did not want this soap to cool off too much because I thought that this would be more pliable while it was still warm. 

My unscented soap slab still a little warm :)

Using my mold as a guide I propped my soap up so that just the very top of the soap was sticking out of the top and sliced off a thin sheet to get rid of the bumpy top part of the soap slab with my handy dandy cutter (super cheap: piece of guitar string with 2 pulls made from scrap plywood- worked like a charm).  Once the top was cut off I sliced the necessary sheets and then cut them to size and finagled them into my 6.5 inch sections of 3 inch in diameter PVC pipe.  This took a little trimming and smushing.  I used a rolling pin to help form the shape of rim before inserting into the pipe.  

My husband insisted on measuring the size of the rim to make sure I was close to 4 mm.  I will say, I was pretty close :)  The cardboard from my Handmade Beauty Box was the perfect thickness.  

4.07 mm thickness measured with a caliper
Once all of the rims were formed in the molds I created the inner soap.  For the inner soap I used my standard recipe.  I chose to have a solid pink color on the inside of the soap because I used a swirly pattern on the rim and I really wanted the rim to stand out and be the show piece.  I did not put this round in the oven to gel, but, I did wrap them with towels to rest overnight.  Here are my soaps all unmolded.

3 tubes of 3 in diameter and 1 tube of 1 in diameter rimmed soaps
I had enough batter to fill 2 of the 3 inch in diameter rims to the brim and 1 1 inch in diameter rim to the brim.  The last 3 inch in diameter rim was only partially filled.  

Cut 1 inch slices of Japanese Cherry Blossom Soap

The 1 inch in diameter soaps were super cute, but, way more difficult to form.  I used the 4 mm thick soap and had to do a lot of smushing to get these to line up correctly.  The seam for these was more dramatic too and needed a little manipulation to get them to close up mostly.  

Here are my soaps from various angles.  

Side View

3/4 View

Full on View

Stacked Soaps View

I had a lot of scrap left over from trimming the rim, so, I made some cute little flowers to put on top of a soap in the future using a small flower shaped cutter.  I also chunked up the random slices that I had to trim off for embedding in soap.

Pile of cute flowers
They were ready for their close up!
Chunked up soap bits
This soap was a lot of fun to make.  It took a while to complete this one but I think that it was totally worth it.  Thank you Amy Warden for hosting this challenge and pushing all of us to try new techniques!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Circling Taiwan Swirl

Hello!  Today this blog is all about the Circling Taiwan Swirl Soap Challenge hosted by Amy Warden and how I made my entry.  If you want to join in on future challenges visit the Soap Challenge Club.  

Here is my entry:

Sexy Little Thing Lotus Blossom of Circling Taiwan Swirl

The version of the Circling Taiwan Swirl that we were tasked to complete is the Elaine Wright method.  Elaine Wright has several videos with unique and amazing swirls.  Check out her YouTube page!

Making Video by Elaine Wright:

Cutting Video by Elaine Wright:

There were several guidelines that we had to follow and I will summarize them below:

1. Use a log mold
2. Use 3 horizontal dividers 
3. Use cold process soap only
4. Demonstrate the Circling Taiwan Swirl only
5. The soap has to be poured 2X thick so it can be cut down the middle to show the swirl inside.  

First thang's first, I had to prepare my mold.  So, here is my mold with the homemade dividers.  I wrapped pieces of cardboard in packing tape to keep my soap protected from the cardboard.  Also, I got this spiffy new mold from Essential Depot.  Super awesome, yeah!   The basket keeps the mold nice and steady and the silicone is a great quality.

I decided to use a fragrance called "Sexy Little Things" from Wholesale Supplies Plus. This fragrance smells really awesome.  It is described as "A feminine blend of jasmine, lily and violet with juicy apple and lime."  I just think that is smells awesome!

Sexy Little Things and my sexy little colors

To go along with my Sexy Little Things theme I decided to use several sexy colors from Mad Oils.  I love Mad Oils for colors because they work so well in cold process soap.  They always disperse really well and are vibrant every time I use them.  The colors that I used are Flirt Mica, Tahitian Teal Mica, and Key West Blue Mica.  I chose these colors because of all of the flirting that happens in Tahiti and Key West in those teeny bikinis AND I may have got some inspiration of the image from somewhere in Tahiti . . . 

Doesn't this looks awesome!
Doesn't this picture just scream relaxation?  Well, scream might not be the right word for relaxing . . . anyway.  I am getting off point here.  I think the colors I picked match this inspiration picture pretty well :)

Beautiful colored swirls!
Back to the process!  I used my favorite soap recipe for this lovely challenge and I soaped at 90 F to make sure my batter stayed nice and fluid.  Once my soap was emulsified and brought to light trace I added my sexy colors and fragrance.  

Wet soap!
When I poured my soap into the mold I really had to press down on the dividers to get them to not leak from the bottom of the mold.  I decided to use the pink in 2 of the sections with the light blue and teal each getting one section.  Here is my soap with the dividers removed.  I forgot to take a picture of the soap with the dividers in.  

Pink, Teal, Pink, Blue
Right after I removed the dividers I used a small wooden dowel to swirl my soap (1/4 in in diameter).  I wanted tight, but, not too tight spacing for my swirls.  I didn't want the colors to get muddled by too tight of swirling.  So, I started at one of the short ends of the soap and dragged the dowel perpendicular to the color lines black and for the until the other end of the soap.  When I finished that I took the dowel and ran it along the edges of the mold in a circle (rectangular circle, that is) to create the wispy circling lines in the soap.  I circled around several times until I was satisfied with the pattern.  

My swirled soap!
I let this soap sit in my oven overnight with the light on to fully gel.  Worked like a charm :)

Here are my cut pics.  I cut the soap into 2 1/4 in sections and then cut the chunks in half to expose what was on the inside of the soaps. Every picture below is a look at the inside cut of the soap.  

End Lotus Blossom

Another end Lotus Blossom

One of each ends side by side

One of the middle sections 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mantra Marbles Soap Challenge

Mantra Marbles Soap Challenge!

Hello all!  I am back with another challenge hosted by Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge.  You too can participate in future challenges by visiting her website and signing up!  I had so much fun learning this new technique AND I got my husband to make me a new mold :) 
Lavender Martini Mantra Marbles Soap
I decided to make the Mantra Marbles swirl using the Nonpareil Mantra Marble which was using squirt bottles a comb and a spoon to achieve the desired swirl in a slab mold.  My slab mold was custom made (by my wonderful husband) for 6 bars of soap.  My mold has hinges on it for easy lining and I lined my mold with Press and Seal.  SO easy!  I decided to use foam board for dividers (nice and snug) and I tried 3 different ways of wrapping them to protect them.

3 different divider styles
The first divider (left) is covered in plastic wrap with packing tape on the ends to hold it down.  The second divider (middle) has Press and Seal wrapped around it with packing tape to seal the ends. The third divider (right) is completely covered in tape.  I wanted to test out different methods to see which worked best.  Turns out, the tape worked the best because there was very little leakage and the wrapping was tight on the foam board.  

I made my own comb too.  I decided that, since my mold was small, I wanted a smaller toothed comb for dragging the soap and toothpicks seemed to do the trick.  I stuck the toothpicks into the corrugated cardboard holes on the end but they seemed a little loose.  I decided to put a little (*cough* a lot . . . ) of hot glue on those suckers to keep them in place.  This worked great and all of my little toothpicks stayed in place.

Homemade soap comb

These are the colors that I decided to use (right).  I just mixed a little of sweet almond oil with the micas so they would mix in easier.  All of the micas that I used are from Mad Oils and Nurture Soap. I just LOVE these colors!  I have a pink, gold, blue-green and green for the swirls and purple is for the solid color block.  The most impressive is probably the Purple Vibrance from Nurture because it doesn't turn grey!  YES!!  So awesome!

I decided to use the slow moving recipe that Amy provided subbing Palm oil for the lard.  I ran my formula through a lye calculator and got to work!  This recipe really was a slow mover and I am glad that I decided to give this a try.  The fragrance I used was was Lavender Martini from Natures Garden and it smells AMAZING!  I used this one before and I knew that I would have plenty of time to work with my soap.  Once my soap was emulsified/very thin trace I divided it up into 4 squirt bottles and the remainder stayed in my bowl for the solid block.  I added my dispersed micas and shook those bad boys up!  Here are my squirt bottles ready to be used. 

Colored soap in squirt bottles ready for action
I started by pouring a little of the purple soap into the mold in one of the small cavities and one of the larger cavities.  My mold was set up a little opposite then what was planned and I had to use more dividers for a 2x3 in bar.  No worries!  This gave me more chances to play with the dividers and really see how they work. 

Pouring the purple
Once the initial layer of purple was added I got to work squirting my colors into the opposite cavities.  I always have a lot of fun utilizing the squirt bottles, even it they do make quite the mess . . . or, I guess . . . even if I make quite the mess . . .

Squirty squirt!
Here I am, a little farther in my squirt soap progression.  Ugh, you see that?  The spatula in my soap pot . . . why does this always happen?  Goo on the handle is not desired.  Good thing I wear gloves!
More squirty!
YAY!  All of the soap has been poured and it is now time to remove the dividers.  CAREFULLY!

Removing the dividers
YES!  All of that careful pulling payed off and my soap looks great!  I am now ready for the comb.
Ahhh! The dividers are out!

At first, I made the cardboard a smidge too long and I had to chop off a bit on the end.  That is why you may notice soap on the comb in this picture when it was just inserted.  I put the comb (back) into the soap and dragged it all the way through.

Using the comb for the first time
Looks like my soap is starting to thicken up a tiny bit.  The soap held a little bit of it's shape after I drug the comb through it.  I decided to use a spoon handle- a flat metal one- for my swirl.

After the comb went through the soap

Time for some swirl!
Figure 8's are hard to do in soap.  I don't know why they are SO easy on paper and then you get to the soap and you suddenly feel like you don't even know what shape that is.  After a slight moment of hesitation I dove right in and made my swirls.  I gave the soap a little tap and it smoothed right out. 

Swirly swirly!

Here is my soap after I cut it.  Not too shabby.  Thank you Amy for hosting the soap challenges and encouraging me to try new techniques.  This has been so much fun!!

Finished soap! YAY!